|Home||Artist Profile||Statement||Resume||Private Collections||Links|
Michael Tice’s painting, “Unusual Balance,” two men share the
canvas; whether they share the same space or whether they’re
independent images remains unclear.
Tice treats the men and the space they occupy with a
Gauguinesque flatness of color.
paintings of Michael Tice combine a narrative mood with decorative charm and a
sense of childhood nostalgia. Tice
evokes settings and atmospheres reminiscent of 1950s ‘Dick and Jane’ readers
and colorful story books to hint at the anxiety underlying an orderly suburban
world. With its skillful figuration
and pleasing colors, Tice’s work candy coats a compelling psychological
complexity, enabling the viewer to sense the discontent brewing beneath the
idyllic surface of the American dream.”
Local Artist Michael Tice
comes full circle in Aiken area
Just over 20 years ago, before the Etherredge Center was built, I
suddenly found myself organizing art exhibitions in the lobby of USCA’s
Student Activities Center. At that
time, the university had a Faculty Fine Arts Committee that was responsible for
a good deal of cultural programming on campus, and I was, off and on, the chair
of that committee for a number of years.
I remember well one particular exhibition on the 1979-1980 gallery
calendar. It was a one-man show by
Augusta native Michael Tice, who for a time had been an undergraduate at USCA
before earning his BFA in printmaking and drawing from USC-Columbia.
When he exhibited his mixed media pieces in February of 1980 at USCA,
Tice was enjoying a prestigious Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the South
Carolina Arts Commission.
It was also in 1980 that Michael Tice moved to New York City, which was
then as it is now the center of the American arts scene.
He’s worked steadily ever since and exhibited in nearly 100 solo and
group exhibitions in New York and other locations.
This month the prodigal returns to Aiken.
Until Nov. 9, the Aiken Center for the Arts will play host to an
exhibition of selected works from the last 10 years of Tice’s career.
His newest paintings, a series entitled “Friends and Neighbors,” were
recently featured in a one-man show at 55 Mercer Gallery in New York.
On the surface, these appear to be images that celebrate the nuclear
family replete with the proverbial two parents and 2.5 children.
Yet, there is something lurking behind the happy smiles and the enforced
togetherness. Even the titles hint
at hidden truths. The largest piece
in this series, for example, “Nothing Out of the Ordinary to the Casual
Observer,” includes a family grouping in which at least one member is fixated
on the ground as if probing secrets embedded in the soil rather than buried
within the human heart.
In this series, Tice himself says he was inspired by popular imagery from
his own childhood such as “old photographs, cartoons, Dick and Jane books,
illustrations from the 1950s.” Yet,
like any serious artist, Tice manipulates these elements to serve his own
In scanning his latest work, I was pleased to find a link to Tice’s
creative vision of 20 years ago. I
am referring to his incorporation of fragments of text.
Among several early Tice pieces in my own collection, is a small-scale
pen and ink drawing entitled “Little Sir Realist Picture,” a work composed
of two separate layers of imagery and text, the first rendered in black ink on
September 10, 1979 and the second rendered in red ink on November 10, 1979.
The interplay of word and image simultaneously complicates and enriches
the visual experience.
Similarly, in the current show at Aiken Center for the Arts, is an ink
and watercolor piece entitled “Happy Land,” which like so many pieces in the
“Friends and Neighbors” series, is essentially a reconfigured memory piece,
a pastiche of images from the artist’s own boyhood.
In this case, running along the bottom edge of the visual material is a
quote from recent American Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, who asks the following
question, “What is imagination but your lost child born to give birth to
This is the core of Tice’s desire to revisit the imagery of his youth;
it is, in large measure, a means by which he can try to trace the origins of his
own imaginative resources. In
reexamining his childhood, he hopes to tap the wellspring of his own creativity.
Such is the strategy evident in an oil on canvas work entitled “From
Here to There.” The central
figure, a young boy in blue t-shirt and white shorts, stands pensively with his
hands folded before him.
He is surrounded by both text and image.
To the viewer’s left are the words “my mind wandered to the forgotten
ghosts…the shadows of the past like broken toys”; all around him is plant
life whose fecundity mirrors the miracle of human growth and development but
whose tendrils hint at the pull of home and hearth, the forces that sometimes
root us to a particular place or posture.
These encircling vines, present in many of the works in this series, are
often, as is the case in “From Here to There,” counterbalanced by the
presence of bird forms, emblematic of humanity’s ability to transcend its
physical limitations in flights of intellect and imagination.
As is often the case with art in its most compelling incarnations, the 34
in this impressive one-person show offer each viewer considerable occasion for
personal reflection and recognition. “Michael
Tice: Selected Paintings, 1991-2001” continues until Nov. 9 in the Founder’s
Gallery at the Aiken Center for the Arts on Laurens Street in downtown Aiken.
Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday
from 10 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more
information on the full range of Michael Tice’s work over the last 20 years,
one can access the artist’s website at http://www.michaeltice.com.
|To contact the artist
please Email to:
|To contact the site designer
please Email to:
All paintings are Copyright © by Michael Tice
These pages are Copyright © 1997 by Ramon Negron
All rights reserved